The Sharks are coming off a recent 5-2 victory against the Edmonton Oilers, following their disappointing 1-2-1 Central Division road trip. Joe Pavelski got a boost, due in part to Evander Kane’s electric debut, by tying a season game-high with four points, and also set a game-high in assists (3).
The Blackhawks come into this one holding a 3-2 record in their last five games, after previously losing eight in a row. Their last game was a 3-2 road loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday February 24. Saying the perennial playoff contender Blackhawks have had a disappointing season is an understatement, but they do have an edge over San Jose.
Unfortunately for the Sharks, their central division foes took the first meeting with a 3-1 home win last week on February 23. The star of the game came from an unlikely source in backup goalie Jean-Francois Berube; he stifled the Sharks offense by making 42 saves in his first start for the Blackhawks.
The final stretch of the regular season is upon us and the Sharks must find ways to pick up points to solidify their playoff spot. This is an easy trap game game the team must avoid.
Can Evander Kane continue off his debut success?
If you haven’t heard, there’s a new guy wearing the number 9 in San Jose. The Sharks made a blockbuster move during Tuesday’s trade deadline to acquire left winger Evander Kane from the Buffalo Sabres.
Kane made his Sharks debut against the Oilers on Tuesday and showcased an immediate impact. He joined Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi on the first line, collecting two assist in nearly 17 minutes of ice time during their dominating win. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to continue this offensive success tonight, facing a team who gives up nearly three goals per game.
Containing the Blackhawks stars
Three Stanley Cups in six years. A Hart Trophy winner. And future Hall-of-Famers.
That’s just a portion of the Chicago Blackhawks’ resume with their core players in the last decade. But this isn’t that same team and Chicago has gone from being one of the NHL’s premier teams to one of the worst.
Despite the disappointment, the Blackhawks are still a team who has talent like Patrick “Showtime” Kane and Jonathan “Captain Serious” Toews on the roster. Of the team’s top 10 scorers, the dynamic duo have combined for nearly 100 of the combined 320 points.
The Sharks must treat this game like they’re facing the 2015 Blackhawks or they’ll get burned, again.
Bold Prediction: Brent Burns leads the team with 51 points, but has been on a scoring drought collecting one point in his last six games. Burns gets back on track tonight, picking up a point or two.